How The Queer Community Reacted To Centre’s Statement About Same-Sex Marriage

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Same-Sex Marriage: On February 25, 2021 the Centre told the Delhi High Court that “In our country, despite statutory recognition of the relationship of marriage between a biological man and a biological woman, marriage necessarily depends upon age-old customs, rituals, practices, cultural ethos and societal values.”

Marriage is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as the state of being united as spouses in a consensual and contractual relationship recognised by law. It is a formal union and social and legal contract between two individuals that legally and economically unites their lives. After several countries began recognising same-sex couples, all major English dictionaries revised their definition of marriage by using gender-neutral language or explicit recognition of same-sex unions.

Same-Sex Marriage In India

In India, same-sex marriage is yet to be legalised. After Section 377 was repealed, a poll by Mood of the Nation found that only 24 percent of Indians agreed with same-sex marriage, 62 percent disagreed and 14 percent were undecided. According to another survey taken by OkCupid the same year, 69 percent of the users of the app stated that ‘it was time to legalise same-sex marriage’,  24 percent stated they were contemplating the issue, and 5 percent were against same-sex marriage.

“Even as I grew up, the idea of marriage was about a man marrying a woman, a girl marrying a boy. That’s what we grew up with,” says psychiatrist and child therapist Kavita Arora in a conversation with SheThePeople.TV.

Living in a heteronormative society where the ‘culture’ depends on rigid gender roles impacts how young queer people think about marriage and relationships. As Kavita Arora stated, most people grow up with the notion that marriage is about men marrying women. It was hard to imagine that same-sex marriage would even be a topic that would be discussed. After Section 377 was repealed, more conversations about same-sex marriage have taken place.

Centre’s Statement On Same-Sex Relationships

The use of the terms biological man and biological woman excludes transgender people from the narrative and imposes their definition of man and woman. Because why just be homophobic when you can be homophobic and transphobic?

“The usage of ‘biological man’ and ‘biological woman’ really bothered me, gender is a spectrum. Plus, considering that the Trans Bill was passed despite criticism from the transgender community, it’s become very obvious that LGBTQ+ rights and specifically trans rights are not taken seriously in this country,” says 20-year-old Devesh Patel, a pansexual college student.

How The Queer Community Reacted

While most people were not surprised by the Centre’s statement, they were disappointed. Several points have been raised about ‘culture’, stating that Section 377 was implemented by the British and mentioning that the temples of Khajuraho depict homosexuality.

“Just because a practice is ‘against culture’, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Outdated and problematic beliefs are slowly being reformed, but it can’t happen without effort. The Centre told queer people that while they are at the very least tolerated, they do not deserve the same rights as straight people,” says Samyukta*, a queer 19-year-old liberal arts student.

While the consensus was that everyone deserves the right to get married, regardless of gender and sexual orientation. It is also important to note that legalising same-sex marriage is only a step towards inclusion. Discrimination and hate crimes wouldn’t magically disappear after same-sex marriage is legalised. Same-sex marriage may help in normalising queerness, but it is also important to focus on uplifting and amplifying the voices of the marginalised people within the queer community.

“The queer community cannot be a place where discrimination takes place. Casteism, Islamaphobia, and transphobia within the queer community have to be addressed too. I fear that if same-sex marriage became legalised, people will assume that the struggle has ended and forget that there are more issues that we need to work on,” says Siddharth Ghosh, a nonbinary software engineer.

*We have changed the name to protect the identity of the mentioned people.